Joan Míro – Glorious voids[1]

Joan Miro (1893-1983)

Joan Míro studied painting in his hometown, Barcelona, ​​and the paintings in his first solo exhibition in 1918 show his interest in Catalan rural life. In 1919, Míro visited Paris. During that time, he was influenced by the cubist style of his friend, Picasso. However, in the early 1920s, when he settled in Paris, he turned to the Surrealist group. Míro’s imagination was unleashed when he approached the Surrealists’ idea of ​​the creative unconscious. Since then, throughout his artistic life, he has always tried to be faithful to impulses from intuition or unconsciousness. Fantasy led him to combine abstract and figurative elements in both painting and sculpture.


The landscape of the sky captivated me. I am fascinated when I see a piece of new moon or a sun in the vast sky. In my paintings, there are small shapes in a boundless empty space. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty planes – all that is naked leaves a particularly deep impression on me.

Blue I (Blue I – oil painting 1961)

When I first started painting, the artists who made a strong impression on me were Van Gogh, Cézanne, Rousseau.[2] – tax collector. When I fell in love with Rousseau’s paintings, I also learned to love popular art. The older I get, the more I realize how important this art form is to me. A fork used to shake hay, skillfully bent by the farmer, is like a work of art to me.

Catalan Landscape (1924 Catalan Landscape)

The immobility always caught my attention. This bottle, this glass, the big rock on the deserted shore – those are things that are completely motionless but in my mind they evoke great movements. I don’t feel this in people who move stupidly all the time. People sunbathing on the beach or people pacing back and forth left an impression on me less than the immobility of a pebble. (Moving things that are immovable becomes much, much larger than things that are moving.) Immobility makes me think of large spaces, where movements take place without stopping at a single moment in time. predetermined, movements have no end. It, as Kant says, is the instant penetration of the infinite into the finite. A cobblestone is a finite and motionless object that reminds me not only of movements but also of motions without end. On my canvas, this concept is visualized by forms similar to sparks that shoot out of the canvas as if they were surging out of a crater.

When there is no horizon, nor any indication of depth, these forms are displaced. They are also displaced on the plane, because a color or a line also inevitably leads to a shift of the viewing angle. Within the large forms, the small forms move.

What I am looking for is, in fact, motionless movement, something equivalent to the so-called rhetoric of silence, or what St.[3] wanted to speak in the language of silent music – I believe so.

I begin my paintings from the effect of a sudden, startling perception that also causes me to flee from reality. That sudden realization can be traced back to a small splash of color that I’m about to paint, a drop of water, a fingerprint I left on the shiny tabletop.

In any case, I need a starting point, even if it’s just a speck of dust or a flash of light. This form gives birth to a series of things, one thing giving birth to another.

The Nightingale’s Song at Midnight and Morning Rain

And just like that, even a small splash of color can create a moving world. I start from something that is considered dead, and then go to a world. And when naming a picture, it comes to life even more.

In a picture, every time we see it, we can completely discover new things. But you can also look at a picture for a week and never remember it again. And you can just look at the picture for a second and be obsessed with it for the rest of your life. To me, a painting should be like sparks. It must be as dazzling as the beauty of a woman or of a poem. It must have splendor, it must be like the stones that shepherds of the Pyrenees used to light their pipes.

I want to achieve maximum tension with minimum of means. This is why I often spend a large part of my paintings on emptiness.

Women and Birds at Sunrise (Women and birds in the morning- oil painting 1946)

The intention towards emptiness and simplicity is realized by me in three aspects: modeling, using colors and visualizing characters.

In 1935, in my painting, space and forms are still modeled. I still use light-dark contrast in my paintings. But gradually, it all disappeared. By about 1940, modeling and contrasting were completely eliminated.

A patterned form is less impressive than an unpatterned one. The pattern suppresses surprise and limits movements to mere visual depth. Using no pattern or contrast, depth becomes limitless: movements can be stretched to infinity.

Blue III (Blue III – oil painting 1961)

Little by little, I got to the point where I used only a handful of shapes and colors. This is not the first time painting has been experimented with with a very limited palette. This is how the frescoes of the 10th century were painted. To me, those are truly beautiful works.


sea ​​Pearl Translate

The source: Twentieth – Century Artists on Dore Ashton, NY:Pantheon Books, 1985, pp. 8-10.

[1] The title is set by the translator.

[2] Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), French post-Impressionist painter. During his life, he worked as a tax collector and taught himself to become a famous painter.

[3] Saint John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross – 1542-1591), Spanish monk – a major figure in the Catholic Reformation and a mystical poet.

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